An essential activity for any beer loving visitor to Brugge has to be the brewery tour of De Halve Maan, the only remaining family brewery in the city.
It’s a brilliant little tour and well worth the measly six Euros per person, which incidentally includes a free beer from the range at the end in the courtyard or cafe.
Still in it’s original building located in a quiet area of town but no more than five minutes from the main tourist drag, you could quite easily miss the brewery in it’s peaceful setting in a small cobbled square.
From the outside (at least from the street level), the only sign you’ll see is the half moon plaque on the wall next to a stone archway. Through that archway is a small courtyard with tables and chairs for alfresco drinking Belgian style, with a small outside bar too for warmer days.
The site is quite an amazing mix of old and new, on entering the visitor centre and brewery restaurant is bright and modern, with stylish menu’s and smartly dressed staff serving beer and quality Belgian (beer related) dishes.
It’s in the brewery itself though that the magic starts, you are led from the ground floor through a series of rooms where old meets new, the new brewing equipment being made to fit the existing building whilst still accommodating the historical parts for tourists.
Be aware though that this is definitely not for those with walking difficulties or folk scared of heights. The tour takes you up four floors on a series of varying staircases and extremely steep metal industrial type steps eventually emerging on the roof, here you have panoramic views of the city which is a sight to behold. Of course what goes up, also has to come down…
I must mention our guide Madeleine, at first I thought “what a miserable so & so” and “that this was going to a barrel of laughs”!
What a mistake, she was brilliant. I hope she wouldn’t mind me saying but Madeleine reminded me of a female Jack Dee, extremely knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, but delivering line after line of dead pan wit.
Of course the most important thing is, the beers great too…